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Biden visit – latest: US president wraps up Ireland tour after tearful meeting with priest

US president also visited the hospice dedicated to his late son Beau

Liam James,Jane Dalton
Friday 14 April 2023 22:24 BST
Joe Biden says he spent ‘more time with Xi Jinping than any other world leader’

US president Joe Biden broke down in tears on the final day of his Ireland tour after an emotional unplanned meeting with a priest who gave the last rites to his son.

The Parish priest of Knock, Fr Richard Gibbons, said the chaplain who performed the last rites sacrament on Mr Biden’s son, Beau, now works at the Knock shrine in Co Mayo where the president paid a visit on Friday.

Fr Frank O’Grady performed the ceremony for Beau Biden before he died of brain cancer in 2015.

He received a call requesting that he meet the president, and later told RTE that the encounter was “like a reunion”.

“We had a nice chat for about 10 minutes. He was delighted to see me and I was delighted to see him,” he said. “He gave me a big hug, it was like a reunion. He told me he appreciated everything that was done.”

In the evening, Mr Biden received a rock star welcome from crowds in Ballina, County Mayo for his last public engagement of the trip.


Biden enters Irish parliament

Joe Biden has entered the Dail, or chamber, of the Irish parliament ahead of a speech to members.

(Sky News)
Liam James13 April 2023 17:44

Speaker invokes spirit of Kennedy in Biden introduction

Introducing Joe Biden, the speaker of Ireland’s Dail, Sean O Fearghail, harked back to the first time a US president addressed the chamber.

John F Kennedy, America’s first Irish descended president, spoke to the Dail in June 1963, months before his assassination.

“Nearly 60 years ago today, in a very different world, and a very different Ireland the late president John F Kennedy addressed both houses and inspired our people,” Mr Fearghail said.

“It is particularly fitting therefore that you should address so close to that important anniversary,” he told Mr Biden.

Liam James13 April 2023 17:51

Joe Biden received a rapturous applause as he entered the chamber of the Dail.

TDs and senators rose to their feet for an extended standing ovation while others shook his hand as he descended the steps.

TDs could be seen taking photographs and smiling as the US president joined them in the Dail.

Liam James13 April 2023 17:57

‘Well Mom’, Biden starts with nod to roots

Joe Biden’s first words as he took the stand to address the Irish parliament: “Well Mom, you said it would happen.”

He went on to apologise to the infant child of an audience member for “havign to listen to the policy speech of an American president.”

Liam James13 April 2023 17:58

Biden in gaffe territory again with All Blacks reference

The US president went on: “I always have a little bit of Ireland close by when I’m in Washington. In the Oval Office. I have the rugby ball signed by the Irish rugby team the ball the team played when they beat the All Blacks in government.”

Yesterday, Mr Biden made a major gaffe when he mistakenly referred to the All Blacks as the Black and Tans; the former the New Zealand national rugby team and the latter a name for British reserve troops in the Irish War of Independence.

He added: “My cousin, one of Ireland’s greatest rugby stars Rob Kennedy brought it to DC on St Patrick’s Day in 2022 to give me and I didn’t play rugby except when I was out of school out of law school. And I didn’t play very well we played in a rugby club. But I did play American football, the few other sports but I realised that, you know, you guys are all nuts. “

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Liam James13 April 2023 18:03

Biden toasts ‘Irish blood’ spilled to set America free

Continuing his address to the Irish parliament, Joe Biden said: “Today, I’d like to reflect on the enduring strength of the connections between Ireland and the United States. A partnership for the ages begins in our shared history, dating back to the very founding of the United States.

“The Irish hearts that helped kindle the torch of liberty and my country and fire its revolutionary spirit, the Irish blood from across this island that was willingly given for my country’s independence.

“The Irish hands that laid the foundations of a new kind of future. One from the bottom up and the middle out one built on freedom.”

Liam James13 April 2023 18:09

UK should work closer with Ireland to keep the peace, says Biden

Britain should be working closer with Ireland to keep peace in Northern Ireland, Joe Biden said in an address to the Dail.

The US president said the Good Friday Agreement, signed 25 years ago, “still needs champions”.

“We must never forget that peace has become a lived reality for an entire generation of young people,” he said, adding: “Peace is precious.”

After years of uncertainty in Northern Ireland due to Brexit, the president said: “I think that the United Kingdom should be working closer with Ireland and this ever this endeavour. Political violence is never going to be allowed to take hold on this island.”

Liam James13 April 2023 18:26

‘It’s an honour to be here’: Biden closes speech

Joe Biden closed his speech to the Irish parliament with a plea for peace in the future.

“No matter what party we belong to, our values are the same. It’s about honesty, dignity, justice and you all have every ingredient to make it work.

“It’s an honour to be here. Thank you very much,” he said before receiving a standing ovation.

Liam James13 April 2023 18:35

Ireland has ‘best poets in world', says Biden

Joe Biden said Ireland has the best poets in the world and quoted Seamus Heaney in the Dail.

The US president’s address to the Irish Parliament coincided with the late Nobel Laureate’s birthday.

Mr Biden thanked Mr Heaney’s widow Marie for a signed copy of his work, and added: “I was always quoting Irish poetry in the United States Senate over my career.

“It’s a long career – 36 years. And my colleagues always thought I did it because I was Irish. That’s not the reason, they have the best poets in the world.”

He said his favourite poem was “The Cure At Troy” and read a quote.

“He wrote, ‘Don’t hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime, that longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme’,” Mr Biden said.

“It’s everything I’ve been taught, rise up. We’ve, in the past, made hope and history rhyme.

“So today, ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate the enduring partnership between our nations, our shared past, our present, let’s set our eyes squarely on the future.”

Liam James13 April 2023 18:57

Joe Biden promised enduring US support for the peace process as he told TDs and senators that “Ireland’s story is no one’s to tell but its own”.

“The greatest peace dividend of the Good Friday Agreement is an entire generation of people, an entire generation of young people,” he said.

“Its hearts have been shaped not by grievances of the past, buy by confidence that there’s no checkpoints on your dreams. They’re writing a new future, a future of unlimited possibilities.”

He went on: “Today Ireland story is no one’s to tell but its own. But the United States will be your closest partner, your most dependable partner, and your most enthusiastic supporter every step of the way. I promise you.

“We’re going to continue to grow our enormous economic relationship as a foundation for both our nations’ prosperity.”

Biden prays after delivering his speech to the Dail (AFP/Getty)
Liam James13 April 2023 19:30

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